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I had the same problem. I found 1 more part to replace before the thermostat. On my 1.8T looking at the front of the car.
On the right hand side on the radiator there is a Y pipe for the coolant. There is a sensor right there. It looks like a coolant tempature sensor but it only has 2 connectors. I replaced this and my p2181 code has gone away. Not sure what the part is actually called.
 

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I just went to the dealer and they looked up the part. It was a special order though.

As with everyone with this code the saga continues. After a full week. After a hard stop on the freeway.... Same code back on. I am going to guess the real fix is going to just be a piece of electrical tape over it.
 
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